Saturday, August 23, 2014

Research Prioritization and Focus

Confused Darth VaderOver the past several weeks or so I have done a little research on several different ancestor lines. I have touched on my wife’s paternal lines; Rogers and Capen.  I’ve also done a little on her maternal lines; Nisgoda and Gierig. My plan, however, was to be working on my maternal side; Pakledinaz and Lucas. Then, of course, my sister was visiting for a little while so I also dabbled down our paternal side; Shaw and Canter. My sister is actually doing the research for this side of the family but I am the one that does the writing for the blog so I have to stay in step with the information she has. That is a lot of different lines to be researching in just a few short weeks.

So, I have come to the conclusion that dabbling in every ancestral line a little bit here and a little bit there does not get anything done (duh!).  Here are the problems I have encountered over the last few weeks and I attribute every one of them to my lack of prioritization and focus:

1. My research is scattered and I am not keeping up with my logs. I have specific research goals and a plan, but with all this jumping around between lines – I lose sight of the goal.
2. I have hand-written notes about more than one ancestor on the same sheet of paper and I cannot tell which note belongs to which ancestor.
3. I have so much going on with different lines that when I have time to sit down and do some actual family history duties, I do not know where to start. And on more than one occasion this has led to nothing actually getting done.
4. Confusion sets in when I am thinking or talking about a certain ancestor – I have gotten two ancestors in completely different lines mixed up with one another.
5. I run into the same issue when I sit down and hammer out some blog post ideas or the actual posts. I have so much running through my mind with the different lines that I do not know what to post about next – so nothing gets posted.

I know I have to get better at how I use my time for each line or I am just going to keep spinning my wheels and will not get any serious research done. I have actually been thinking about this for the last week or so with several different ideas flashing through my brain. However, I think what makes sense me and allows research and focus time with all our family lines within a given year is to break my time quarterly, like this:

January – March = Shaw/Canter (my paternal side)
April – June = Nisgoda/Gierig (wife’s maternal side)
July – September = Lucas/Pakledinaz (my maternal side)
October – December = Rogers/Capen (wife’s paternal side)

This does not mean that I will ignore the other lines if it is not their quarter. I will still be open for new leads or new contacts but I may not act on them right away. For instance, this quarter is Pakledinaz/Lucas, if I come along some information on Capen, I will take note of that information in OneNote (my note taking software) so it is saved for when the Capen quarter comes up. I cannot think of any lead or piece of information that would be so time-sensitive that I would have to drop everything and pursue it. If a cousin or other researcher contacts me I am not going to ignore them. This is the only scenario that I can think of that may make me stop everything and focus, for a short period of time, on another line.

Have you found yourself in the same boat? How do you divide your time between the different ancestral lines that you research?

Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ for that family.

Photo, Confusion by Zielanella, courtesy of Funny Images on Flickr.


© 2014 copyright, Christopher Shaw

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